Highgate United 3 Studley 5
Midland Football League Division One
HIGHGATE United slipped to fourth place in the table following this defeat to neighbours Studley on Saturday, paying the penalty for a poor first half display which saw them go in at the break two goals in arrears.
A spirited comeback when reduced to ten men looked as if something might be salvaged from a game which at one time looked beyond reach, only for a late goal was to seal the three points for the visitors.
Manager Gary Birch made changes to the line-up which drew at Cadbury the previous Monday, with Danny Rolfe and Nathan Pulisciano returning from holiday for starting places, new signing Ricardo Richards playing up front with Lei Brown, and Brett Fellows and Karl King on the bench alongside Nathan Edgington, Trevor Edwards and another recent addition in goalkeeper Lewis Feeney.
A bright Studley start was rewarded after just six minutes when keeper Paul Hewitt failed to deal with Rico Taylor’s left wing cross, leaving Matt Bailey the simple task to sweep home the loose ball.
Gate’s first serious threat came on 15 minutes when Brown’s cross was fractionally too long for Richards at the far post, Brown then outjumping custodian Shaun Edwards in an aerial duel only for Toby Checketts to rise and head clear from under his own crossbar.
Josh McKenzie was near to doubling his side’s lead with a shot saved by Hewitt’s legs and when at the opposite end Richards found himself behind the Studley defence the debut maker could only chest the opportunity into keeper Edwards’ hands.
McKenzie broke clear in 43rd minute to beat the stranded Hewitt with ease before a gifted third goal came three minutes after the break when Bailey took advantage of a weakly struck goal kick to complete his brace.
Tom Lacey’s 50th minute red card following a 50-50 challenge with Sean Williams left Gate with a seemingly impossible uphill task, but remarkably the ten men were to take a grip on play, with Brown heading home Richards’ 62nd minute cross.
The deficit was reduced even further when four minutes later Brown headed the ball across goal for Richards to make no mistake from eight yards out.
What appeared to be a couple of handballs in the Studley box went unpunished and all the good work was seemingly undone when a stretched defence was caught out by a quickly taken 74th minute free kick, allowing Williams to restore the two-goal advantage.
Gate came back fighting, the ball bobbling around the 12-yard area for Richards to score his second of the game with a delicate 76th minute lob over Edwards’ head, making the score 4-3 in favour of the visitors.
Richards went close to what would have been a dramatic equaliser with a shot on the turn fired inches off target before Brown then headed a late Trevor Edwards cross beyond the upright, but Gate were to be caught on the counter-attack as visiting substitute Harvy Alexander sealed the win with an shot in added time deflected in off any number of defenders.
Highgate are without a game on Saturday and next see action at Hinckley AFC on September 13.